Tuesday, October 1, 2019

More Commentary on Jeff Grub's Manual of the Planes For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition

"...from Arcadia to Pandemonium, from the plane of elemental Fire to the Astral plane, vast new worlds of adventure are now open to players."
A vital source book for players and DMs of all levels of experience, the Manual of the Planes details the manifold worlds of the known planes of existence. This book describes the inhabitants, rulers, and environments of these worlds, as well as rules for movement, survival, combat, and spell use in these alien surroundings. A different style of AD&D adventures awaits!

Jeff Grubb's Manual of the Planes was always a favorite to thumb through growing up & other worldly plane adventures were & are my speciality. There wasn't a Planescape in sight when this book came out & man did I get it in the neck growing up for liking this 'dry commentary' on the planes.
I mentioned Roger E.Moore the other day & it was him as well as Ed Greenwood who really fleshed out some of the planar information as we see in a bit of the Drivethrurpg background; "The Great Wheel of Planes first appeared in The Dragon #8 (July 1977). It was refined in the Player's Handbook (1978) and Deities & Demigods (1980).

In the early days of D&D, the planes mostly acted as a source of enemies - like demons, devils, slaads, elementals, daemons, and more. There was talk of publishing adventures set in the Plane of Shadow and even about creating a whole series of planar adventures related to Greyhawk, but because of Gary Gygax's creative role in many of these adventures (and because of his increasingly busy role as a manager at TSR), they never appeared. Instead, players' first chance to adventure in the planes was in "Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits" (1980), which took them to the Abyss. TSR would return to the planes (sort of) in T1-4: The Temple of Elemental Evil (1985).
Meanwhile, Dragon magazine started covering some of the planes in more depth. Roger E. Moore wrote about "The Astral Plane" for Dragon #67 (November 1982), then Ed Greenwood covered "The Nine Hells" in Dragon #75 (July 1983) and #76 (August 1983). "
The Manual of the Planes took the information that was in Dragon issue #75 & completely updated it for use as an actual adventure location. It did the samething with the Abyss as well.

Not only did you now know as a dungeon master where you stood but why?! The Hells began become a bit more sane yet there was plenty of room for expansion as a dungeon master. Many folks have asked what my problem is with Second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons? Well its all that freaking canon & backstory that we have slog through as DM's. The system is good but you really have to pick a spot & then use it as the basis for your own campaign when dealing with later editions of D&D as well as AD&D.

C.Jackson from his Amazon review I think hits it on the head for the Manual of the Planes; "
I am so glad that books like this exist. It is incredible the amount of thought and attention to detail that used to go in to D&D books. I like and play 5th edition, but you just would never, ever get a book of this caliber out of Wizards of the Coast. Most of the information contained within is probably not useful for anyone, and the exhaustive (and exhausting) amount of details about certain outer planes which seem primarily as enticements to buy the underperforming Deities and Demigods are a bit out of place, but nevertheless the fact that it was written and published is a major feat. The elemental planes I believe are still perfectly relevant in the 5th edition Forgotten Realms cosmology, but for someone playing 1st edition (or 2nd for that matter), and wants to delve even slightly into the planes, it's a must-have. It was a good read even just for "lonely fun" as personal exploration into the history of D&D. Plus it wasn't a very popular book then or now so can be obtained for generally reasonable prices." 
There are several points here that I agree on the fact is that is a book that didn't get its due like other Advanced Dungeons & Dragons books there fore its much easier to collect. The information the Elemental planes is killer stuff & solid for bringing in Elemental rulers & royals into a game.  Why?! Because the level of detail that the first edition book goes into on the planes the Manual of the Planes Wiki entry has a complete break down of the contents of the book; "The book describes various planes of existence, and what creatures characters might encounter there, covering the astral and ethereal planes, the elemental planes, and the outer planes.[3] The book also details how to survive in the planes, and how combat and magic differ under each plane's special conditions. The Ethereal Plane, The Inner Planes—including the Plane of Elemental Air, the Plane of Elemental Fire, the Plane of Elemental Earth, and the Plane of Elemental Water, the Para-Elemental Planes (Smoke, Magma, Ooze, and Ice), the Energy Planes (Positive Energy and Negative Energy), and the Quasi-Elemental Planes (Lightning, Radiance, Minerals, Steam, Vacuum, Ash, Dust, and Salt) -- and the Astral Plane. After these planes, the Outer Planes are briefly described, including NirvanaArcadiaSeven HeavensTwin ParadisesElysiumHappy Hunting GroundsOlympusGladsheimLimboPandemoniumThe AbyssTarterusHadesGehennaThe Nine HellsAcheron, and Concordant OppositionManual of the Planes explains how each of the outer planes is related to each of the character alignments. For example, "The Seven Heavens" is the final resting place for characters of Lawful Good alignment."

Basically the Manual of the Planes can be thought of as a side book for Dieties & Demigods because it brings home the home planes of the gods, their servants, & still manages to stand on its own merits.

Taken with Deities & Demigods By Ward & Kuntz the Manual of the Planes presents a very dangerous & definitive planescape. Clerics are no longer on their own & they becaome a part of the cosmic chess board we get in the manual. Taken as a whole cloth book we're presented with a dynamic & dangerlous multiverse of planes, gods, & very alien enities.

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